Remote Life – Sandra Lewis

In our latest update to the Remote Working Journal, we speak to Sandra Lewis, Founder and CEO of Worldwide101 and wearevirtualassistants.com

 

What was it that inspired you to create a business centered around remote working?

 

After working for 20+ years in a corporate environment in the US and the UK, I decided that I wanted a change in pace. And so in 2009, we moved our family to Europe in search for a more balanced lifestyle. It was then that I started thinking about how I could continue to pursue a rewarding career and yet lead a life far away from the stress of a big city, and office politics! So it was my desire for a remote lifestyle, which lead me to build a company around remote working where everyone would have a chance to pursue a rewarding career in their own environment. So far, it’s working well! ☺

 

In an industry where the entire workforce is by its nature working remotely, are you seeing any shifts in the way other ‘traditional’ businesses perceive remote workers?

 

I believe that there are still some misconceptions about what a virtual assistant is, and what a virtual assistant can do to support business owners, and too often, the industry is still associated with basic admin support and data entry type tasks.
We created We Are Virtual Assistants to raise awareness of what a virtual assistant is, and can do! I am hoping that our efforts to educate businesses on the value of working with virtual assistants will pay off, and that more and more companies will understand that having someone remote can be an extremely valuable investment.

What do you predict the next 10 years look like for remote working? Will the upward trend in adoption continue?

 

I surely hope so! In all honestly, yes I believe that the world is changing and remote work will only grow overtime. Professionals are looking for flexible and remote opportunities, and with the rise of technology there is absolutely no reason for this trend to keep growing.

 

How do you organise your day while working remotely, do you work a traditional 9-5?

 

I don’t work a traditional 9-5 but then I am the founder of 2 busy businesses so I work a traditional 7am-11pm! ☺

In terms of our global team, they work on a flexible schedule and we are more concerned about their accomplishments, and their commitment to providing a premium service to our clients than their actual schedule. So it’s fine to drop the kids off, and it’s fine to work outside of business hours – as long as high performance is maintained.

Are many of the people coming to work for you first time remote workers?

 

I would say it’s 50/50. We have team members who have never worked remotely, while others are veterans, and we are happy to onboard either. What we look for are professionals who have made a conscious decision to work from home and remotely, and who will work very hard to retain that privilege.

What advice would you offer to first timers, or someone considering the move?

 

It might appear to be a novelty, and it might seem to be an amazing opportunity however, it’s not for everyone. Many people miss the water cooler and the office camaraderie. Think hard as to whether you like to work alone, and whether you have the self-motivation and the drive to sustain this lifestyle

 

 

 

Sandra-Lewis-in-office

Sandra Lewis is the Founder and CEO of Worldwide101, the premium virtual assistant company for demanding founders, and executives with a team based in North America and Europe all 100% remote!

Sandra also recently launched wearevirtualassistants.com, a community platform that provides resources, tools, expertise, and inspiration to support virtual assistants succeed in the industry.

When she is not managing her businesses, you can find her hanging out with her dogs, and exploring the countryside!

 

@sandra__lewis

worldwide101.com

wearevirtualassistants.com

Remote Life – Kelly Fallis

The Remote Journal chats to Kelly Fallis, CEO of RemoteStylist.com in the next Remote Life interviewunnamed

Who are you, and what do you do?

Kelly Fallis, CEO of online furniture platform RemoteStylist.com.  We sell 350+ furniture lines, ship for $1 duties included in Canada/USA and provide Free Stylists to help you source products.

Why do you work remotely?

We had an office once and honestly it was more of chore to get there for everyone.  I really flourish working remotely and love it because I can do that from anywhere.  The downside is it never really stops but the flexibility in my schedule allows me to my maximize productivity.  Besides that I run a company and the overhead costs of having offices mount quickly.  We work remotely with our clients, travel a lot to see vendors etc and most of the time we’re operating at less than half staff capacity.  It was pointless … sure it takes people a while to adjust to working from home but once you get a team that just does it and well the uptick in general spirit/drive/enthusiasm is off the charts.

How do you plan your day, do you work a ‘normal’ 9-5?

Not remotely.  Work is a 9am to midnight thing 24-7.  That flexibility allows me however to include walks with the dog, dinners with family and friends, an afternoon off doing whatever I need to do etc.

Planning your day is the absolute biggest challenge for any remote worker; i’ve been working remotely for 13 years and still haven’t quite found the balance though not sure one ever does!  I’ve tried set times for calls, emails, meetings and that didn’t fly for me.  What’s working for me today might not in the future but I use our CRM calendaring system to schedule front-end tasks and am really good at sticking to it.  For operational or back end matters however I find a written to-do list that I can cross off is fueling motivation … nothing like constantly challenging yourself to have a 30 line sheet of paper totally crossed off by the end of the week!

What is the best and worst thing about the remote life?

The worst: it’s isloating and lonely.  The best however is you can easily offset that by cranking whatever tune you like, physically changing locations and doing what tasks you want when you want or feel like inspired to do them.  It doesn’t matter to me if someone wants to hop a call at 10am or 7pm, I can adjust my schedule on the fly to make sure it works for everyone.

What advice would you give someone looking to go remote?

Do it!  I think offices are big time wasters and have never seen anyone excited about going to an office.  When people can be in the drivers seat and exceed their own productivity expectations creativity and passion is fuelled which is better off for everyone around.

 

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Remote Life – Leandro Thomas

In the next instalment of our Remote Life series, we head to Malta to speak to Leandro Thomas from Nomad Destination about his journey to becoming remote

Leandro's Desk View

The view from Leandro’s Desk

Who are you, and what do you do?

Hi my name is Leandro and am originally from the UK and currently live in Malta, although I have spent the least amount of time in my life in the UK so far. Even before embarking on my journey to become location independent, I have lived and worked in over 5 countries. I am a IT Project Manager and work full time, whilst working on my online business.

Why do you work remotely?

There are a few reasons I aspire to work remotely, but the main one is choice. I want to be able to live and work from where I want to. I want to be responsible for how much money I earn. I don’t want to have to ask my boss for permission to get 2 weeks off, or go home to see my sick child – I could go on. Flexibility in life is important to me, more than any fancy corporate title.

How do you plan your day, do you work a ‘normal’ 9-5?

I certainly do so evenings and weekends is when I work on my business. Once I earn a comfortable amount I will leave my job – a day I can’t wait for.

My day starts at 7 am when my 1 year old son wakes me up. I spend some time with him, give him his breakfast and go off to work until 6 pm. I catch up with my wife, tell my son goodnight and then get started on working on my business. It is relatively difficult time wise, but so worth it as I see this as my path to freedom.

What is the best and worst thing about the remote life?

Other than flexibility to live the way you want, the best thing is the amazing people you form connections with. There are so many people doing interesting things, you learn something new all the time.

It is difficult to mention something bad about this life, but nothing is perfect. I would say that when you are on the road, you miss out on quite a few events or everydaylife “stuff” of friends and family. Another thing would be, that in the initial stages you need to commit a lot of time to this, meaning that you may have less time with family.

What advice would you give someone looking to go remote?

If this is truly what you want to do – if this is the kind of life you want to live, then just go for it! Start something, write a blog, launch a product, do something that gets you closer to being able to work remotely – don’t hesitate or think about the “how” too much, to begin with.

Keep a pad and pen nearby. In this life you will get a heck of a load of ideas and you can’t possibly work on them all at the same time. When you get an idea or creative thought, write it down or draw it, even if it doesn’t all make sense yet. You’d be surprised that some of your best ideas may be on that pad, later down the line. It certainly happened to me.

 

Follow Leandro

Nomad Destination (NomadDestination.com) – Discover where to live and work from remotely

Breaking Average (LeandroThomas.com) – Leandro’s blog charting his journey to becoming location independent

Remote Life – Anne-Laure Chorro

In the second instalment of our Remote Life series, we visit Paris and Anne-Laure Chorro from Make It Travel

The view from Anne-Laure's desk in Paris

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Anne-Laure, I’m 26 years old, I’m French and I live in Paris. I graduated from university as an Industrial Systems engineer (industrial production) one year and a half ago. I liked what I studied but I didn’t like the work in the factory and I’ve always wanted to create my own company. So this is what I’m doing now.

I’m creating a startup with my co-founder (another French guy). It’s a marketplace to rent your travel gear between people and travelers. It’s called ‘Make It Travel’. We only have a French landing page so far but when the website will be released (in June), it will also be in English and Spanish. My co-founder and I, are travellers (backpackers not tourists ^^) and we were a bit frustrated to have to buy everything new for a trip. Also, when we were back from those trips and we didn’t have plan for the next one, all of our gear were staying in the closet waiting to be used again. This is when the idea came up. Why not renting our gear instead of keeping them in our closet? We were sure that other travelers and people would need our stuff. We will see if we were right! 🙂

Why do you work remotely?

I never liked the classical office system where you have to arrive at that time and not leave before that time, otherwise your colleagues and boss will think that you are lazy and not working. The point is, you can arrive at the same time than everyone, staying late at night but working only one hour a day and playing on your computer the rest of the time… And everyone will think that you are working hard! It’s completely insane for me and I didn’t want to work in this kind of environment.

Working remotely is part of the solution. But I also like to work remotely so I can work whenever I want and I feel less pressure to do the normal 9-5. What I like the most is to be able to work from anywhere in the world! I live in Paris right now, but I don’t like to live in this city. Too much stress, too much time to commute, too many people. I like the nature and the silence. Working remotely will allow me to get closer to the kind of life I want to live. I plan to leave Paris during the summer 2015 and to travel in Europe (then the whole world later). I also want to learn Spanish so I will live in Spain during the winter to become fluent.

To sum up, I like to work remotely because I can travel as much as I want, plan my own working day, having the endless summer :), feel less pressure to do my work, meet more people and especially great people.

How do you plan your day, do you work a ‘normal’ 9-5?

It depends on the amount of work I have to do and how I feel. Sometimes I prefer to get up very early to do a 7am – 2pm, then I enjoy the rest of the day. Sometimes, I prefer to do a normal 9am – 6pm, especially when I have meetings/appointments or to work with someone else.

I usually plan my day the night before. I have a list of things to do and I choose one or two important tasks. Those are the priorities for the day. If I have some time left, I can fill in it with tasks having less added value but that need to be done as well.

What is the best and worst thing about the remote life?

The best: Travelling and working at the same time.

The worst: Needing to be independent and adaptable. This is not for everyone. Some people prefer the stability of a ‘normal’ life (job in a company, leaving in the same house for their whole life, etc).

What advice would you give someone looking to go remote?

I think going remote is not a overnight changing mind. It seems a sexy lifestyle but you have to be prepared for it.

First, you have to know if you are able to spend hours on your computer just working (not playing). Don’t forget to take breaks, it’s very important.

Second, you have to be independent and autonomous in the way you work. If you like to have instructions from your boss or have your work verified by someone else, I think it’s not for you.

Third, have self-discipline and be self-motivated. No one will verify how many hours you work each day. So if you are not able to set up your alarm, get up and go working on your own, it will not work.

If you want to have this lifestyle, you can start where you are now. You can try to be self-discipline, learn to be independent and autonomous, spending hours working on your computer, etc. First, try one week then one month. If you feel good after a month working remotely in your normal environment, it’s a good start. You can maybe try to work remotely in another city 🙂

Follow Anne-Laure @alchorro

Make It Travel

Make It Travel twitter : @Make_It_Travel and Facebook : www.facebook.com/MakeItTravel

Remote Life – Kate Kendall

In the first in our Remote Life series, we catch up with Kate Kendall CEO and founder of CloudPeeps

What’s the view like from your desk?

The view from Kate's desk

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Kate and I am an entrepreneur and writer based in San Francisco. I’m the founder and CEO of CloudPeeps – a marketplace that connects talented marketing, community and content professionals with remote work opportunities. A lot of our customers are smaller companies – who are innovative and pushing the boundaries in their own areas. I also created The Fetch – a global curated city guide that helps professionals find events. Basically I love helping people to discover what they love to do – and have the freedom to do it from anywhere.

Why do you work remotely?

Growing up, I always had this feeling that I never wanted to work in a traditional office. In fact, I became a founder because I feared working set hours in an office cubicle so strongly. I always felt like I could achieve more getting out there and that sitting in an office was a waste of time. Working remotely creates freedom for different working styles, environments and allows people to focus on productivity.

Remote teams are built on trust, communication, output and impact – it’s less about politics or personalities. I’m grateful we’re building on at CloudPeeps.

While there’s a lot of responsibility in managing yourself, health and time, I love remote work because I can concentrate on simply shipping good work wherever I am.

How do you plan your day, do you work a ‘normal’ 9-5?

I start my work day around 8.30am where I catch up on emails from my iPhone and start chatting with my team on Slack. From there, sometimes, I’ll go for a quick morning hike on some of San Francisco’s steep hills, other times, I’ll do a sprint from 9am until 1pm on items that require heavy attention.

I work from my apartment so usually break to then grab lunch and my daily must-have, chai latte. In the afternoon when my energy drops, I tend to schedule any calls or Hangouts. I batch external meetings for Tuesdays, Wednesday or Thursdays so I can stay in the one spot on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Around 5pm, I’ll head for a run if I didn’t get the chance in the morning then eat an early dinner. I hit my creative streak in the evenings so tend to block out 7-9pm for more work. By 11pm, I’m usually in bed and then asleep by 12am.

I’ve also started working Sunday afternoons again as it’s a great time to catch up and prioritize the week ahead.

What is the best and worst thing about the remote life?

One often gets ‘cabin fever’ working from home and sometimes, all the weeks feel the same and roll into one. You can also end up working a lot! Way more than working in-house – but I’m in a bit of a unique situation as a startup founder with investors to please. 🙂

The best thing is that I can do what I love, when I want and from where I want, each day of my life. I get to uncover my own motivations, fears and compatible environments – and dive into the art of self discipline and mastery. It’s definitely like taking ‘the red pill’ but I wouldn’t want it any other way!

What advice would you give someone looking to go remote?

Uncover your deepest values – ask yourself what really drives you? If you value freedom (over say, perceived security), you’ll love remote work.

Create a routine and stick to it. Get out and about daily, exercise lots and stay connected with your friends and family. Have fun! Have self compassion. Develop a solid self awareness and forgive yourself when you’re less productive.

Follow Kate

katekendall.com

Cloud Peeps

The Fetch